Tory loyalists launch Commons bid to limit Brexit backstop to one year in move to bolster Theresa May’s ailing deal
- The proposal would give MPs a vote in 2020 over whether to enter the backstop
- If the UK did not enter the backstop it could extend the Brexit transition period
- It would also place a ‘duty’ on the Government to have a workable alternative
Tory loyalists last night tabled a backbench amendment to Tuesday’s vote designed to effectively limit the UK’s stay in the backstop to just one year.
The proposal would give MPs a vote in 2020 over whether to enter the backstop or extend the Brexit transition period – an idea similar to the ‘parliamentary lock’ being discussed by Mrs May.
But it would also place a ‘duty’ on the Government to have a workable alternative in place within a year of the backstop being entered.
Hugo Swire (pictured), a former Northern Ireland minister, tabled the amendment along with Bob Neill and Richard Graham
Theresa May said this morning that killing off her plan could result in no-deal, or no Brexit at all
And it would require Mrs May to seek ‘further assurances from the EU that the backstop would only be a temporary arrangement’.
The amendment was tabled by loyalist MPs Sir Hugo Swire and Richard Graham. But Nikki da Costa, former director of legislative affairs at No 10, suggested it was inspired by ministers, saying: ‘I know a government amendment when I see one.’
One government source last night suggested that ministers would back the amendment. Some senior Tories believe it is still possible for the PM to obtain a ‘clarification’ from Brussels about how long any backstop period could last.
The backstop is designed to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland.
The development came as MPs and businesses were urged by the boss of one of Britain’s biggest pension and investment firms to put the national interest first and get behind the PM’s Brexit deal.
Writing in the Mail, Legal & General chief executive Nigel Wilson said an agreement with the EU was ‘always going to be a compromise’ and argues that Mrs May’s opponents are being ‘self-indulgent’.
He also warned that re-running the referendum, trying another model of membership, or leaving the bloc with no deal will cause more uncertainty for business.
His comments came after a day of turmoil on global stock markets with traders rattled by fresh US-China trade tensions and predictions of another economic slowdown.
More than £56billion was wiped off the FTSE 100, the index of Britain’s biggest companies, which closed 217.79 points, or 3.2 per cent, lower at 6,704.05.
Chancellor Philip Hammond told MPs during the latest stage of debate on Theresa May’s deal that he does not ‘believe we can afford the economic costs of a no deal Brexit’